Featured: This Porsche 356 Has Not Had Your Typical Restoration

This Porsche 356 Has Not Had Your Typical Restoration

By Petrolicious Productions
February 15, 2017
20 comments

Photography by Petra Sagnak

Story by Thomas Gerwers

This Porsche 356 “Pre-A” is quite often the most controversial entrant at the classic car shows it appears in, and is it hard to see why? As difficult as these images make it to believe, the car began it’s life in quite the usual way, i.e. with paint and a full interior. It wasn’t soon after though that it’s interesting path through life was underway.

An American pilot first purchased the car in 1956 while he was stationed in Germany, where the two remained for a time before his subsequent reassignment to Alaska. Quite the change in scenery, but not a entirely new view, as he was still looking over the dash and out the window of the same Porsche he had while overseas. The less than perfect Alaskan roads certainly accelerated the car’s aging process, and it wasn’t long before it was placed in a barn for indefinite storage. Prior to being tucked away, the 356 was used, fittingly for its locale, in various ice racing events, so purists still reading this should take solace in the fact that it wasn’t subjected to only rutted and semi-paved commuting up in the 49th state.

Some time after being “stored,” Belgian Porsche enthusiast and restorer Mike Tempels came across the little Porsche and decided it was worth exhuming from its frozen still existence. Strange legal gremlins made it such that the car could only be exported back to Europe in pieces, a frustrating but not insurmountable ordeal that involved over a year’s time and a long flatbed journey across barren terrain in order to reach the nearest shipping port in Anchorage.

After the car’s second overseas journey in its lifetime, the restoration was begun in earnest. A truly daunting undertaking. The interior had all but disintegrated, the underpinnings were the definition of rust, the front and rear had sustained damage at some point, and do I even need to mention that drivetrain was in the midst of a nap it didn’t intend to wake from?

Mike gave the engine and the rest of the mechanical pieces a complete overhaul, but touched the body only where it was absolutely necessary, preserving as much as possible of its unpreserved state; the patina isn’t a sign of neglect, it’s a vivid image of the car’s history.

This process of semi-restoration was a family project. Mike’s wife Nicole, daughter Jody and her husband Jeff Gransjean, and his nephew Yannick Schynts all contributed to the 4 months of work necessary to bring the car to its current state. For example, Jodie took care of the seats by using the metal frames of some 1950s truck seats covered with simple leather straps in order to have the inside of the car match up with it’s wildly un-concours exterior.

This unique 356 made its first contemporary appearance at the 2015 edition of Schloss Dyck Classic Days in Germany. Unfortunately this is also where Mike blew the engine. As should be clear by now though, not much can keep this car off the road now, and a new unit was quickly fitted. The text on the rear of the car sums it up pretty well: “A Porsche Never Dies.”

 

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Jose Delgadillo
Jose Delgadillo
5 years ago

This is an example when a car really needs some repair and preservation work done. There isn’t much left of the original paint or interior trim. It’s not paint wore down to primer in spots or upholstery that has worn through and split seams. This is a fad car. The owner has every right to build his car his way. If I was to just drive my latest car as I found it, it would look kind of sad. I plan to retain as much of the original as I can, because it was an original owner car until I bought it this summer.

Jer
Jer
5 years ago

Do what you want with your car, but don’t pretend that rust is not car cancer.

Jim Levitt
Jim Levitt
5 years ago

******

Jim Levitt
Jim Levitt
5 years ago

Sorry, absolutely disgusting… and very sad…

Pete McLachlan
Pete McLachlan
5 years ago

Not a rust bucket but a tub ‘o rust maybe 🙂

As stated, the correct rebuild order is to bring the car to reliable, safe, and mechanically pleasing condition, and then drive it.
Chances are you will get a rock dent into the trim, a chip in the windscreen and some knuckleheaded door ding as you are road testing the car for a few years. Full paint and trim restoration easily falls off the option list as you are getting the tires hot in the real world.
In my case, this method has resulted in some entirely enjoyable cars with a somewhat rough appearance. But then I rarely care what other people think.

Petra Sagnak
Petra Sagnak
5 years ago

A few more picture will show you more of this car… 🙂

phil
phil
5 years ago

A similar philosophy I employed when acquiring my 1967 Saab Model 96 (2 cycle, 3 cylinder engine of 850cc). The difference being mine has been in continuous use since new, and suffers only minor surface rust. Nevertheless, It just seemed a shame to slap a new paint job over the original “patina-rich” finish of the car. I honestly just couldn’t see that new paint would necessarily be an enhancement, given the rather boring colors Saabs came in, and devoid of any trim.
My car HAS received much attention to the mechanicals.. rebuilt 3-carb (original stock configuration) engine, all new brakes (including retrofitted Saab discs in place of the dismal original front drums) and brake hoses, new suspension and steering components.
It may not look like much, but I’d pit both handling and performance over that 356A any time (and I speak from experience, having owned a 356 Speedster, 356A coupe, and 356SC coupe in my sordid past.

Satch Carlson
Satch Carlson
5 years ago

Interesting… I may have raced against this car in the 1970s on the lake ice of Alaska.

But the piece is made painful to read by the egregious misuse of “it’s” for “its.” Can’t anybody write in English these days?

sdamico555
sdamico555
5 years ago

I want to disagree respectfully. While I appreciate each car owners decision on what to do with their cars, this is unmistakably preserved neglect. You can make it romantic all you want by calling it patina, which is just another word for infinitely deferred routine maintenance. Preserving patina is the easy way out of doing a proper restoration. Since this is a comments board, I will feel free to post what some would call an against the grain comment. But since this very car is against the grain, I feel free to give my humble opinion. What I see is neglect that is too extensive and expensive to fix, and being called patina. Sorry, but some fads, need to go away. However, I suppose that in this collector car world, we have to make room for all kinds. Even those we disagree with. Enjoy the drive

Steve Griffiths
Steve Griffiths
3 years ago
Reply to  sdamico555

Well said. I agree wholeheartedly.

John Smith
John Smith
5 years ago

Here are more pictures of that (entire)car:

http://www.xact.pro/alaska356story

John Smith
John Smith
5 years ago
Reply to  John Smith
Rubens Florentino
Rubens Florentino
5 years ago

During my job as a classic car parts salesman, I have been assisting many guys who bought a project car and started the job by the wrong end, by doing the body work before the mechanical, trying to make it beautiful before making it road worthy. My advice is: make the car run again, drive it, enjoy it before anything. You may find out it may not need even to be pretty to be fun.

Lorne Johnson
Lorne Johnson
5 years ago

Nice build but it’s an “A” not a PreA.

Greg Long
Greg Long
5 years ago

Great car!

thomas maine
thomas maine
5 years ago

ueber cool. Love it. Reminds me about this: https://petrolicious.com/this-porsche-356-is-driven-against-the-grain

Doug Carter
Doug Carter
5 years ago

Why not at least one photo of the entire car?

You’re only showing Mona Lisa’s eyes.

John Smith
John Smith
5 years ago
Reply to  Doug Carter

Here are more pictures of that (entire)car:

http://www.xact.pro/alaska356story

Douglas Anderson
Douglas Anderson
5 years ago

I love it !!
Anyone got a clue where I might buy one of those helmets the driver is wearing ??

Bill Meyer
Bill Meyer
5 years ago

Absolutely beautiful……..